Thursday, November 9

My Frugal Miser - October Expenses: $1,485


I was frugal in October.  Because of all the work we did, we were able to keep our food costs low since many clients feed us while we are working.  There were some annual charges in the mix, including my tag renewals (I renewed the Sonata and the moped for two years) and AAA membership.  I also received a cruise offer I couldn't refuse.  We are leaving Saturday for an 8 day Caribbean cruise.  For the two of us with taxes the cost was $400.

I had a nice bit of income in the expense category.  Since we were working I sold my Bruno Mars tickets.  I sold them directly on the Ticketmaster website for a $400 profit.

October Expenses:  $1,485

$265 Auto ($4 for gas, $136 for AAA membership, $125 for registration)
$59 Bank Fees
$70 Clothing
$10 Computer
($465) Entertainment (movies, gambling, alcohol)  income this month
$210 Food
$85 Gifts Given
$133 Household/Housing/Home Repair
$0 Homeowner's Insurance (annual payment)
$28 Health and Dental Insurance (prepaid 2017 health insurance premiums in December 2016)
$0 Investment Expense
$457 Interest Expense*
$0 Medical/Dental (income)
$0 Miscellaneous
$5 Personal Care
$0 Subscriptions
$0 Taxes
$62 Sharing Economy Expenses (tolls, car washes, etc.)
$130 Utilities
$440 Vacation

*Interest expense includes student loans and the loan on my car.  As both rates are below 2%, I am completely comfortable paying the interest each month and investing the money that I would otherwise use to pay off these loans.  In October, I paid $428 to E*Trade for "hard to borrow" interest on a short sale of Sears Holdings stock. 

Monday, November 6

My Frugal Miser - October Income: $14,217


October was a solid month.  I worked some large meetings and did several BP mystery shops.  I also had two profitable stock sales:  I closed out my short position for SHLD (sticking to Puts moving forward) and made a short-term profit on some of my Biglari Holdings stock.   Rent was down.  I have two non-performing rental properties right now.

October Income: $14,217

$2,030 Mystery Shopping and Hospitality Jobs
$46 Uber
$22 Lyft
$0 Postmates
$1,591 Amazon Deliveries
$5,397 Rental Income
$985 Dividends and Interest (Investment Accounts)
$3,914 Realized Gains (Losses) on Investments
$232 Other Sources

Notes:  
  • I don't include transactions in my retirement accounts.  This includes rental income, dividends and capital gains and losses.
  • I include merchandising and hospitality work in the mystery shopping category since the companies that I shop for provide this extra side work. 

Tuesday, October 31

Keeping Busy! (Dallas bound)

October has been quite a busy month.  I accepted a route of 138 BP mystery shops with locations across the state.  I spent three days this week on the east coast, mostly around Melbourne down to Port St. Lucie.   The route has also taken me to Ocala and the Orlando area.  I have 48 shops left to complete the route:   16 in south Florida from Palm Beach to Homestead and the rest from The Villages through Ocala and Gainesville and north from there.  It's questionable whether this was the best use of my time.   There is a completion bonus of almost $1,000, so I have no choice now but to finish it.

In addition to mystery shopping, it's been a busy month in the meeting industry.  We worked a 5 day Tampa meeting, a 5 day Orlando meeting, and several 1 or 2 day meetings.

Today we are flying out of Orlando to Dallas for another 5 day meeting that starts tomorrow morning.  It sucks having to drive two hours to the airport, but I saved enough on the flight to make it worth it.  We worked the same meeting at the same hotel last year.  The hours are long but the work isn't too bad.

Even though I haven't had a day off in October, and have routinely put in 80+ hour workweeks, it will all be worth it in November:  Carnival offered me a "Pack and Go" cruise rate we couldn't resist.  After the hurricanes, the company reconfigured some cruise destinations, and I suspect this caused some cancellations they wanted to fill.  Including taxes and port fees, we paid $400 total for an 8 day cruise.  Even better, we are visiting all new ports this time.

With the cruise, another Vegas trip lined up for December, and the upcoming holiday season, November and December should be easier months.  The income focus will be on finishing the BP route and making Amazon deliveries.  I only have a couple of day meetings scheduled and don't expect anything larger to pop up until January.  I have a vacant townhouse and should have a second vacant property at the end of the year, so I'm not ruling out a trip to Birmingham if I can make it work.

Thursday, October 5

My Frugal Miser - September Expenses: $3,629


I should have been more frugal last month.  Things got out of hand in Vegas after one too many drinks and I lost a lot of money playing blackjack.  What sucks is that I was ahead $700 before that and then gave it all back and then some.

I received an unexpected refund from the hospital where I had my sinus surgery, but I also received an unexpected lab bill that I have yet to pay.  I want to find out if those two transactions are somehow related.

Food and gas were affected by our evacuation during Hurricane Irma.  We went to Birmingham for a few days until the power was restored at my house.  Since the power was out for several days, I had to throw out all the food that spoiled.  Interest expense was the hard-to-borrow interest I pay for shorting Sears stock.  One day, if they ever file for bankruptcy, this will all be worth it and I will have a nice gain.  Clothing was also on the higher side.  For the meeting work we do, I have to wear professional clothes, and needed to replace some of the dress shirts that were stained.  Last but not least, utilities were higher as we switched cell phone providers.  I sold my Pixel at a loss and also had two cell phone bills.  The good news is my monthly phone bill will go down by at least $50/month.

September Expenses:  $3,629

$621 Auto ($193 for gas, $428 for new tires)
$0 Bank Fees
$102 Clothing
$13 Computer
$1,126 Entertainment (movies, gambling, alcohol)
$480 Food
$0 Gifts Given
$50 Household/Housing/Home Repair
$0 Homeowner's Insurance (annual payment)
$28 Health and Dental Insurance (prepaid 2017 health insurance premiums in December 2016)
$0 Investment Expense
$783 Interest Expense*
($404) Medical/Dental (income)
$0 Miscellaneous
$5 Personal Care
$35 Subscriptions
$0 Taxes
$111 Sharing Economy Expenses (tolls, car washes, etc.)
$436 Utilities
$244 Vacation

*Interest expense includes student loans and the loan on my car.  As both rates are below 2%, I am completely comfortable paying the interest each month and investing the money that I would otherwise use to pay off these loans.  In August, I paid $1,070 to E*Trade for "hard to borrow" interest on a short sale of Sears Holdings stock.